WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Giants hold off Porterville

COS’ Grizzle Jones shoots the ball against Porterville this past Wednesday. The Giants defeated Porterville, 79-69, to improve to 17-8 overall and 7-2 in Central Valley Conference play.(NORMA FOSTER/COS ATHLETICS)

COS women’s basketball defends home court with a 79-69 victory over Porterville; Giants improve to 17-8 overall and 7-2 in the Central Valley Conference

COS ATHLETICS – College of the Sequoias’ quest to capture a third straight Central Valley Conference women’s basketball championship remains mathematically alive, but stands as a longshot following results around the league Feb. 14.

The state No. 17-ranked Giants did their part, getting five of Geizzle Jones’ game-leading 23 points over the final 3 minutes and 43 seconds to pull away from Porterville for a 79-69 victory at Porter Field House.

CVC-leading Fresno City, however, also won, rolling past Reedley 99-70 to improve to 22-4 overall and 10-0 in the conference with two games to play.

Sequoias (17-8, 7-2) sits 2 1/2 games back with three left, beginning with its final regular season home game scheduled for 5 p.m. Feb. 17 against Taft (15-9, 3-5).

The Giants would need to win out, including a showdown at Fresno City at 7 p.m. Feb. 21, and have the No. 6 Rams also lose in their second-to-last regular season game Feb. 17 at West Hills-Lemoore (4-17, 0-9) to force a tie for the CVC crown. Fresno City beat West Hills-Lemoore 100-46 during the first round of CVC play.

Sequoias’ hopes of qualifying for the Northern California Regional playoffs for the 11th straight season, and possibly even landing a first-round home game, received a boost with its win over Porterville.

The Pirates (5-19, 3-7) led 21-17 after the first quarter before the Giants opened the second quarter on a 7-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer by Jones (Bullard High) at the 8:37 mark, to surge into the lead at 24-21.

Sequoias would not trail again, but Porterville never folded, either.

After expanding their lead to as many as 15 points (61-46) on a jumper by Trinity Ferro (Corcoran) with 1:13 to play in the third quarter, the Giants’ lead shrank to as few as two points (64-62) on a pair of free throws by Gracie Magana with 6:38 remaining in the fourth.

Porterville was within three points (69-66) with 3:43 left, but Sequoias went on a 10-3, game-closing run that featured a jumper and a 3-pointer from Jones to pull away for its third straight win.

Jones made 10 of her 18 shots while also adding eight rebounds, three steals and a block.

Kyla Wandick (Bakersfield) also had a big night for the Giants, contributing 17 points, 10 assists, three steals and two rebounds.,

Ferro finished with nine points, three rebounds, three steals and two assists.

Sequoias also received eight points, seven rebounds and three blocks from Darleth Felix (Tulare Union); eight points, four assists, three steals and two rebounds from Anisa Torres (Caruthers); seven points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals from Lucia Ricci (Seattle, Wash.); four points, three rebounds, five assists and three steals from Teresa Sandoval (Hanford West); three points and an assist from Maci Chavez (Kingsburg); two assists and a rebound from Taylor Whitfield (Sierra Pacific-Hanford); and a steal from Sarah Upshaw (Las Vegas).

The Giants final regular season game is at 7 p.m. Feb. 23 at Reedley (15-9, 6-3). The Tigers topped Sequoias 67-60 on Jan. 31 during the first half of CVC play.

Seedings for the NorCal Regionals are expected to be released Feb. 25, with first round games set for Feb. 28.

The state’s Elite Eight tournament, which Sequoias has qualified for in six of the past eight championship seasons, is set for March 14 and 16-17 at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut.

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